Archimedes the Mathematician

Archimedes was the greatest mathematician living before the Renaissance in Europe. Archimedes (287-212 BC) was born in Syracuse in the island of Sicily. He studied science under Conon of Samos at the University of Alexandria during the city’s Golden age as the best world center of learning. He made major discoveries in the geometry of circles, hydrostatics, and mechanics. He formulated the law of fluid displacement, Archimedes principle, and invented the Archimedes screw. In the field of physics and basic mechanics he developed the lever, pully, and the screw. In the application of the lever he wrote, “Give me a place to stand and I can move the whole earth with a lever. Another statement which I can remember about the lever is, “Give me a fulcrum strong enough, and a lever long enough, I can move the whole earth”.

The Archimedes principle states the if the weight of the object is less than the “up-thrust” exerted by the fluid, it will float partly or completely above the surface of the fluid; if its weight is equal to the “up-thrust” it will come in equilibrium below the surface of the fluid, and if the weight is greater than the “up-thrust” it will sink. As High School students our Science teacher expected us to remember this Law of Floating Bodies by heart.

Archimedes Screw is one of the earliest types of a ‘pump’ invented by him. It consists of a large spiral screw revolving inside a close-fitting cylinder. It is used to raise water for irrigation. The lowest portion of the screw is dipped under the water and the screw is rotated which pumps up the water. A precaution is that the cylinder must be inclined at a suitable angle to get the maximum flow. This was an important development based on the science of hydrostatics.

When the Romans attacked Syracuse in 214 BC, Archimedes designed a number of useful weapons like the long-range catapult to throw ammunition on the enemy, and mirrors which used the sun to set fire to the Roman ships. Once Archimedes was doing some calculations with a stick on the ground, and a Roman soldier scolded him, and the soldier killed the great man, who immediately fell on the ground. But for this the Roman General Marcellus felt sorry and erected a tomb in the mathematician's honor. That marked the tragic end of the great man.

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More by :  Dr. Frank S. K. Barar

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